It goes without saying that Boston College's 3-22 baseball program has a number of different issues. Chief among them is the lack of facilities dedicated to the program. The team plays its home games on a football tailgating lot and the school's primary indoor practice facility was out of commission for weeks due to the winter storm.
The Northeast weather / climate is an issue, but if we're being honest with ourselves, it's probably not issue 1a here. While home games against Northeastern and Holy Cross have already been cancelled due to weather this season, BC was playing Northeastern at Northeastern around the same time of year. The same for the Bryant game, which was moved from Chestnut Hill to Smithfield, Rhode Island. Was the weather that much better an hour south? Probably not.
The issue is that BC's laughable baseball diamond becomes unplayable given the slightest amount of rain or snow. Down the road, Northeastern plays on turf and is able to get more games in despite the bad weather. Even Bryant has a nice baseball facility when compared to Shea Field.
More than just the facilities, a general underinvestment in the sport is slowing killing any signs of competitiveness for this program, and it's starting to show in a big way with an overall record seemingly mathematically impossible through 25 games.
Fixing that underinvestment in the program has to start with providing the program with a proper baseball facility. Boston College simply cannot expect to compete in arguably the second best conference in the country without a proper ball field. If the school is serious about continuing to compete in the ACC for baseball, the ball field is the ONLY thing that matters right now (well, the ball field and the coaching, but that discussion is for a different post).
Until BC dedicates sufficient resources towards finding a proper home for Birdball -- whether that be on- or off-campus -- the idea of playing college baseball for Boston College is dismissed out of hand after recruits take a cursory look at the school's joke of a facility.
A common argument for those that want to ax the program is that as a northeastern school, BC doesn't have the same natural recruiting advantages as other programs in the conference. I question whether that's truly the case or not. Take a gander at the rosters of any number of this week's nationally ranked college baseball programs and my guess is you'll find several players coming out of Massachusetts.
Here's a few:
-- The Vanderbilt Commodores are 25-4 this year and ranked 3rd in the country this week. The program cleans up in Massachusetts. The 'Dores 1-2 pitchers on their roster are Junior LHP Kevin Ziomek (Amherst, Mass.) and sophomore RHP Tyler Beede (Auburn, Mass.). Ziomek dismissed playing for BC after looking at the facilities. BC didn't even bother to recruit Beede. Vandy also has RHP Pat Delano (Braintree), RHP Adam Ravenelle (Sudbury), OF Rhett Wiseman (Mansfield) and Mike Yastrzemski (Andover). And yes, THAT Yastrzemski. Those players were plucked out of schools like Lawrence Academy, Buckingham Browne & Nichols and St. John's Prep.
-- Virginia Cavaliers, 25-3 and 6th in the country. Sophomore RHP Barrett O'Neill hails from Ashland, Mass. (The Dexter School).
-- #24 Notre Dame, 15-9 and coached by former Eagles head coach Mik Aoki ... sophomore RHP Pat Connaughton, drafted in the 38th round of the 2011 MLB First-Year Player Draft by the San Diego Padres. Arlington, Mass. St. John's Prep.
-- #30 Virginia Tech, another program coached by a former Eagles manager in Pete Hughes. Hughes has the Hokies at 20-9 this year and ranked in the NCBWA Top 30. He's also been able to successfully leverage his recruiting pipeline in Massachusetts, landing freshman infielder/pitcher Phil Sciretta (Duxbury, Nobles), junior RHP Eddie Campbell (Bridgewater), redshirt junior outfielder Tyler Horan (Middleboro, BOSTON COLLEGE High) and freshman RHP Matt Tulley (Lowell).
You get the idea. While BC probably couldn't build a competitive ACC roster of players from Mass. alone, there is a lot of talent leaving the state and playing for some very good ball clubs (and/or former employees). It's not a stretch to think that a school like Boston College could keep more of these players in state with a modest investment in the program's facilities. If the school is truly serious about rebuilding a competitive baseball program, they could start by addressing the ball field question to help the coaches on the recruiting trail. That's one (of the many) ways the school can start to address the underinvestment in some of its varsity sports programs -- baseball chief among them.
Thanks to College Baseball Daily's Brian Foley for contributing to this post.